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Minimum connection times for immigration/passport control

Minimum connection times for immigration/passport control

Old Mar 16th, 2010, 08:22 AM
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Minimum connection times for immigration/passport control

As I am checking for airfares to Italy for this summer, I am coming across flights with very tight connection times. I am not too concerned with connections within the US or Europe. I am more concerned with allowing enough time to get bags and my group processed through immigration and passport control in going to and coming from Europe/Italy. Does the airport that the overseas departure make a difference in the time allotment? Is there a general rule of thumb for connection times? This will be my first trip to Europe, so I am at a disadvantage in this phase of the trip planning.

I know that the people here on this forum have much more experience than I and can offer some assistance.

Leslie
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 08:32 AM
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I'm not sure I follow which you are worried about. Some of the longest times I've had for that were in Europe (LOndon, specifically), not the US. So I think you should be concerned about connections in Europe.

The worst airport I've been at was Heathrow for connections within Europe (ie, my flight from the US first landed at Heathrow and I had to connect there to get to my final destination). I've connected in a couple other airports (Paris, Amsterdam, come to mine) and none was as bad. Personally, I'd probably like to leave about two hours for a connection within Europe upon arrival--at least 1.5. I don't ever like only one hour, although I've made that in Paris. You never know when the plane will be a little late or how much distance you may have to cover upon arrival to get from one point to the next (at some airports, they are entirely different terminals and may involve a bus, for example). I think I had to use the bus at Heathrow, and of course, Paris. But the passprot control took the longest at Heathrow, in addition to the bus not being very efficient, as I recall (not good schedules, or didn't come when it should). I couldn't have made my connection in London in only one hour.

I don't know about Italy, but you would likely be connecting in some other country to get to Italy, like London or Paris, I suppose. Amsterdam is pretty good (KLM).
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 08:43 AM
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It's the breaks to the game. I came thru Heathrow earlier this week and from the time we got off the plane until I met my driver it was less than 15 minutes. We were the only people in the non EU line at passport , the bags were there when we got to baggage claim and walked thru the green lane!
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 08:58 AM
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I'mnot sure I understand. You go through passport control only when you enter a country - not leave it. so you need to allow for immigration at the ariport in Italy - unless you are changing planes in europe on the way. If so, which country and if it's a separate flight or not will determine where yuo go through immigration.

On the way back you will go through immigration wherever you land in the US. this can take 15 minutes or more than an hour - depending on how many planes land at once and the natinality of the passengers. You need to allow enough time on the way back - sinceyou need to pick up your luggage and go through customs before rechecking and going through security again on the way back - that's where you need to be sure you have enough hours between flights.

If you give specific cities and itinerary people can give more specific answers.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 09:02 AM
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We've had really good experiences connecting in Munich and pretty good experiences connecting in Frankfurt.

But this may not be what you are talking about. Do you mean, say, the length of connection time flying into Rome and taking another flight on to Athens or Tirana? In that case, you probably won't even go through immigration and customs until your final destination. Buying your ticket from a single airline, even if they put you on a code share with another airline, simplies your situation because they know how long it will take and will not book you on a flight that you will miss, unless you can't drag your party out of the Duty Free shop.

If you are worried about how long to arrive at the airport before catching your flight home or how long to allow before getting your transportation on arrival, that is a different question with a different answer.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 09:40 AM
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I guess my inexperience is showing. I am lumping all of the terms...passport control, customs and immigration together.

Our flight plans are not made yet. Hopefully will take a flight directly from the US to Rome (FCO). If that is not possible, then we will have to connect in Europe somewhere, either in London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, or Paris, for the flight into Rome. We will be flying from Florence on the return, so a connection at one the same 4 cities will occur.

I do understand that if we fly directly into Rome from the US, we will have to go through immigration/customs/passport control at that point upon our arrival. But if we have to make a connection in Europe prior to our final arrival in Rome, do we still go through immigration and customs in Rome, our final destination, or in the first city that we reach in Europe? I am assuming that the latter is the case. If so, I want to allot enough time between the last two flights. One poster suggested 2 hours with 1.5 as a minimum. That sounds reasonable to me.
Leslie
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 10:06 AM
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If you connect through Frankfurt, Paris or Amsterdam you will go through immigration ("passport control") at that airport - since they are your point of entry into the Schengen zone. You do not heed to collect your bags, unless they are not checked through.

You will go through customs, which basically involves just walking straight through the green channel, in Italy.

You will also go through security again at your connecting airport.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 10:07 AM
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You will go through it in Rome. If you connect in another city, say Amsterdam, then your luggage will be sent from the US to Rome and you will collect it there. You would not need to collect it in Amsterdam. In Amsterdan you would just change gates and get on the connecting flight.When you land in Rome then you will collect your luggage and go through passport control and only through customs if you have something to declare.
Coming back into the US the first US airport you land in you have to collect your luggage, go through passport control and immigration and customs,recheck your luggage to your final airport if that's not where you are at and continue on your way.
You also have to go through security, usually at all airports except Rome and your home airport in the US.
You will need the longest connection time coming back into the US if where you land is not your final destination.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 10:24 AM
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MarthaT and hetismij....if I read you correctly, you are giving conflicting info. about when to go through "passport control" Does this happen when entering Europe (Schengen Zone) or at the final destination point (in my case, Rome)? My concern is allowing enough time to go through the channels. If this happens when I get to Rome, obviously extra time will not have to be allowed and a tighter connection time can be handled easier. If this takes place before we get to Rome, ie when our flight connects in Amsterdam, Paris, etc, then more time would have to be allowed before the final flight into Rome.

I do understand that the bags will be checked all the way through to the final destination, and that we will have to go through security at each leg of our trip.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 10:43 AM
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You will go through passport control at your first point of arrival in the Schengen zone. So at Schiphol Amsterdam for instance you go through a special transfer control, within the airside terminal - it separates Schengen from non Schengen flights.
If you look at the Schiphol(www.schiphol.nl) site you will find maps - the departures map shows where these controls are.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 11:34 AM
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Thank yu to all who responded.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 01:59 PM
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I always allow myself 1.5 to 2 hours for a connection. Seems to have always been enough time for me and my checked luggage to get to the next flight.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 04:43 PM
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You need to check carefully since some airports have longer legal connection times - 2 hours is the minimum connection time at heathrow - even assuming you stay airside and never go near immigrations. Also it's best to check the ontime arrival of your incoming flight - some (usually the earliest) are usually on tine - and some are frequently late enough to be a problem.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 05:31 PM
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I don't agree with MathaT assessment. heitismij has it correct for connections in any Schengen zone country.

Everywhere I've been, including reentry to the US the order has always been passport control 1st, baggage claim 2nd, then customs.
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